It's National Mushroom Month in September and Chicago chefs are having fun with fungus in a variety of tasty dishes.
Chef Guy Meikle fondly remembers foraging for mushrooms with friends in Indiana and as a kid in Boy Scouts. At Heritage, he fills Polish golumpki (stuffed cabbage rolls) with a blend of foie gras, shiitake mushrooms and buckwheat to accompany wood-grilled prime ribeye steak ($46). A rich oyster mushroom hunter's sauce finishes the dish, along with meaty charred oyster mushrooms from River Valley Ranch in Wisconsin. “In Czech and Polish cooking, many dishes use mushrooms,” Meikle says. “This is a rich early fall dish that highlights the mushrooms of my youth, but featuring a variety of different textures.” 2700 W Chicago Ave, 773-661-9577
The smooth and savory filling for Chef Johnny Besch's mushroom ravioli ($18) comprises a hearty blend of king and queen oyster mushrooms sautéed in butter and braised in porcini milk and creamy porcini mushroom purée. The king and queen oyster mushrooms are grown for BLVD by Chicago Mushroom Company https://www.chicagomushroomcompany.com. Besch plates the ravioli atop a mix of vegetables including fava beans, asparagus, English peas and even more mushrooms – beech, king and queen oysters and maitake. 817 W Lake St, 312-526-3116
Mushroom and mole is a match made in Mexico at this Logan Square neighborhood restaurant run by a husband and wife team of Rick Bayless veterans. The grilled mushrooms ($13) have been a menu staple and guest favorite since they opened in late 2015 and Chef Brian Enyart uses a variety of mushrooms (currently maitake and shimeji) in the decadent yet simple dish, serving the shrooms over Oaxacan red mole and with crispy chestnut corn bread. “The chestnuts in the corn bread are sweet, the mushrooms are earthy in flavor and mole is really complex so it ties everything together for a balanced flavor,” Enyart says. 2829 W Armitage Ave, 773-661-6452
The massive crudité platter ($38) at Clever Rabbit is the most elaborate and expensive item on the menu at Wicker Park's new veggie-forward restaurant. One of many delicious components is a smoked mushroom mousse, which tastes a little like chicken liver mousse, but better. “We take a blend of dried mushrooms, which include shiitakes, black trumpets, cremini and hen-of-the-woods and smoke them for five hours,” Chef Matt Lair explains. He then cooks the smoked shrooms in water and cognac, before blending them in a Vitamix with cream. 2015 W Division St, 773-697-8711